The occupation of Japan was, from start to finish, an American
operation. General Douglans MacArthur, sole supreme commander of the
Allied Power was in charge. The Americans had insufficient men to make
a military government of Japan possible; so t hey decided to act
through the existing Japanese gobernment. General Mac Arthur became,
except in name, dictator of Japan. He imposed his will on Japan.
Demilitarization was speedily carried out, demobilization of the former
imperial forces was complet ed by early 1946.
Japan was extensively fire bomded during the second world war.
The stench of sewer gas, rotting garbage, and the acrid smell of ashes
and scorched debris pervaded the air. The Japanese people had to live
in the damp, and col d of the concrete buildings, because they were the
only ones left. Little remained of the vulnerable wooden frame, tile
roof dwelling lived in by most Japanese. When the first signs of
winter set in, the occupation forces immediately took over all the s
team-heated buildings. The Japanese were out in the cold in the first
post war winter fuel was very hard to find, a family was considered
lucky if they had a small barely glowing charcoal brazier to huddle
around. That next summer in random spots new ho uses were built, each
house was standardized at 216 square feet, and required 2400 board feet
of material in order to be built. A master plan for a modernistic city
had been drafted, but it was cast aside because of the lack of time
before the next winte r. The thousands of people who lived in railroad
stations and public parks needed housing.
All the Japanese heard was democracy from the Americans. All they
cared about was food. General MacAruther asked the government to send
food, when they refus ed he sent another telegram that said, "Send me
food, or send me bullets."
American troops were forbidden to eat local food, as to keep from
cutting from cutting into the sparse local supply.
No food was was brought in expressly for the Japanese durning the
first six months after the American presence there. Herbert Hoover,
serving as chairman of a special presidential advisory committee,
recommended minimum imports to Japan of 870,000 tons of food to be
distributed in different urban areas. Fi sh, the source of so much of
the protein in the Japanese diet, were no longer available in adequate
quantities because the fishing fleet, particularly the large vessels,
had been badly decimated by the war and because the U.S.S.R. closed
off the fishing g rounds in the north.
The most important aspect of the democratization policy was the
adoption of a new constitution and its supporting legislation. When
the Japanese government proved too confused or too reluctant to come up
with a constitutional reform that satisfied MacArthur, he had his own
staff draft a new constitution in February 1946. This, with only minor
changes, was then adopted by the Japanese government in the form of an
imperial amendment to the 1889 constitution and went into effect on May
3, 1947. The new Constitution was a perfection of the British
parliamentary form of government that the Japanese had been moving
toward in the 1920s. Supreme political power was assigned to the Diet.
Cabinets were made responsible to the Diet by having the prime minister
elected by the lower house. The House of Peers was replaced by an
elected House of Councillors. The judicial system was made as
independent of executive interference as possible, and a newly created
supreme court was given the power to review the constitutionality of
laws. Local governments were given greatly increased powers.
The Emperor was reduced to being a symbol of the unity of the
nation. Japanese began to see him in person. He went to hospitals,
schools, mines, industrial plants; he broke ground for public buildings
and snipped tape at the opening of gates and highways. He was steered
here and there, shown things, and kept muttering, "Ah so, ah so."
People started to call him "Ah-so-san." Suddenly the puybli c began to
take this shy, ill-at-ease man to their hearts. They saw in him
something of their own conqured selves, force to do what was alien to
them. In 1948, in a newspaper poll, Emperior Hirohito was